Splice News media trends: The Guardian, Twitter dating and Facebook cracks down on piracy

As a leading light of the commentariat in Asia, newsroom consultant and former alumnus of Yahoo, CNBC and Bloomberg, Alan Soon knows a thing or two about the media. Here is his roundup of developments inside the bubble this week


Sentiment at the New York Times is apparently uneasy as the company pushes through a difficult re-org of its newsroom operations. The paper is offering buyouts as it shifts resources to new digital roles, including a reworking of the copy desk workflow. “The mood at the paper is poisonous in a way I’ve never seen it in the past 15 years.”

…Digital revenue continues to grow at NYT, rising 23% to $55 million in Q2. Digital now represents 42% of the paper’s total advertising revenue.

The Guardian is adding surveys at the bottom of its articles to understand what additional information readers want. “The data teaches us we shouldn’t make assumptions about reader levels of knowledge. Editors are now treating a story that they might know inside and out much more objectively.”

I love the way Adam Thomas is leading the European Journalism Centre through change. He’s flattening the hierarchy and introducing something bold: a transparent salary structure. “Our organisation needs the resilience and agility to create new opportunities for journalists in a changing world. To do that, we have to change ourselves.”

Government and media 

Philippine president Duterte took a swing at Rappler, accusing it of “American ownerships.” Rappler took apart his argument — and fact-checked everything else he said at his State of the Union speech.

Media in the land of giants

Jeff Jarvis wants media companies to stop “whining” about Google and Facebook. “They competed with us and they gave advertisers a much better deal and a much better sense of their customers. I don’t blame them – we messed that up. We lost the business and that’s our own damn fault.” Damn right.

…By the way, Jarvis was speaking at the launch of the Center of Media Transition at University of Technology Sydney. It’s good to see something like that in the region, although it would be nice to see more people at the intersection of tech and media in its management.

Facebook bought Source3, a company with the right algorithm to crack down on users who share pirated videos on the platform. Facebook wants to attract premium video publishers, so this is a step in that direction.

…And it’s clear that original premium video is the company’s top priority. Zuckerberg told analysts that he’s after “incremental” time. The company has been competing against the major TV networks in signing up original videos ahead of the launch of its new service next month.

…And if you missed it: Facebook posted $9.3 billion in revenue for Q2. Eye watering, jaw dropping! But revenue growth continues to slow (hey, it’s still +45% year on year!) in line with Facebook’s warning that it’s running out of space to show ads in your News Feed.

Twitter also filed its earnings report. After a promising start to the year, Twitter added zero new users in Q2. Still, daily active users grew by 12% thanks to some smart tweaks in the product.

…Speaking of engagement, there’s now a dating app for verified Twitter users. Apparently verified people are more interesting. So it’s anyone with a blue tick. Like Trump.


Nielsen started adding YouTube and Hulu numbers to their measurement of TV ratings. It now carries both desktop and mobile metrics from those services.

We’ve seen media companies become creative agencies (think Vice). What does it look like the other way round?

The death of Flash is greatly exaggerated. Adobe says it’ll still support it till 2020. Just kill it already.

Business models

The Danish news site Føljeton came to realize one thing: Its readers were more interested in its newsletters than the actual site itself. This is how why they’re becoming a “newsletter company.”

Here’s a smart one. Reelgood (reel name!) is a service to help cord cutters find something new to watch. It aggregates shows from over 250 streaming services in one dashboard. This is the TV Guide for the modern age.


CrowdTangle (now under Facebook) is looking for someone to build and enhance partnerships with publishers across Asia Pacific and India. The position is based in Singapore. Check it out here.


I’ve never thought about it but electric cars could soon come with just one pedal. Who needs brakes when you can take your foot off the gas (er, electricity?).

If you think it’s hard speaking Chinese, can you imagine how hard it must be for computers to hold a conversation in Chinese? Here’s why. It’s fascinating.

And Amazon is finally in Singapore. It’s promising free 2-hour delivery as part of its strategy to take on Alibaba.

Quote of the week 

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
— Karen Lamb


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